(This short story was translated by Juan Carlos Zevallos)
October 31, 2025; a place near Los Angeles. John runs beside her daughter on bike. The effort is worth it; He watches with pride as little Sammy pedals keeping her balance. It’s her first day with a real bike, without side wheels, and it looks like the four-year-old has gotten the jist of it very fast. “Faster, Daddy,” and John starts to have trouble keeping up. They go along a pedestrian street, with houses on the side with their little gardens in front. The sun presses although we are already in autumn. John passes over the fallen leaves of the trees, his daughter avoids them awkwardly and he struggles not to bump into the bicycle. Drops of sweat fall on his face “Damn autumn, cold yesterday and hot today, every day different from the one before”, on a second thought, he starts feeling thankful for the sunny weather. It’s the perfect day and John is enjoying it with his daughter.
Thousands of miles away, on the other side of the Pacific, an old man removes his kimono and kneels in front of his altar to Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. Akiro is, at 85, one of the richest men in Japan. There is no child in the world that hasn’t had a taste of his “Kaiju”, candies with the shape of giant monsters like Godzilla. They are all the rage in America and tonight, Halloween, millions of kids will eat a ton of the fun candy all throughout the States. It is curious, to say the least, that Akiro could come up with the great idea of selling the originally shaped candies when he had only ever tasted candy once in his life when he was five.
“Darling, how about we make a little pause?” John cannot keep going. He misses how tiny she had been only five years ago and he marvels at how much she has grown. Meanwhile, he has put on 20 pounds and is now unable to run more than a couple of miles in one go. Sammy does not listen to him, she keeps going, and laughing, and pedaling, and laughing, faster and faster. “Don’t go so fast, you’re going to fall!” But the girl still does not stop. They approach the end of the street and John makes one last effort to reach his daughter.
The old man remembers that day eighty years ago, he has it etched in his memory as a carving in stone. It was a Thursday and since it was August, he was enjoying his holidays. Back then, he and his grandfather would go to a park very close to his home in Nagasaki every morning. But that day his grandfather passed by his house very early to tell him that they would not go to the park. He had to go to city hall to do some paperwork and his grandson could not come. Seeing the face of his grandson, the man took a candy out of his pocket. “This is for you. I was saving it for your birthday, but I think you will need it more today. I do not like to see you sad”. He gave it to him on condition that he eat it after lunch. The man did not want the mother to get angry with her child because of him. The boy promised to do so and put the candy in his pocket.
John realizes that he has not yet taught his daughter how to use the brakes. “Sammy, hit the brakes!” He would like to tell her to use the right brake and not to hit it too hard or she could lose her balance, but he doesn’t have time. Fortunately, the girl learns fast. She hits both brakes at the same time but not too hard, so she manages to stay upright long enough for her father to reach out to her and grab the bike and keep it from falling. They end up a mere two meters away from the road just as a car speeds right by them. “That was close!” thinks John. Sammy’s smile has been wiped from her face. “Calm down, it’s alright. And you did very well! You deserve a prize! What would you like? “
He never saw his grandfather again; he would never see anyone again. The catastrophe caught him at home while he was reading a story about a dog named Hachiko. The roof caved in and he only survived because it was a low building, however, he went blind. Her mother was not so lucky; she was still shopping when the bomb fell and she found death on her way home. His father had died serving the Emperor a couple of years before, he was one of the scientists working on Unit 731. On August 9th, Akiro was alone in this world with nothing to look forward in the future. In the middle of the chaos, his blindness went unnoticed for most people wandered aimlessly, just like him. He was lost for hours until, suddenly, someone took his hand and led him to a house. He was given a bowl of soup and a corner to sleep. He does not know how long he was with that stranger that never spoke to him. He only discovered that it was a woman because the day she took him to a hospital, she put something in his hands before leaving and told him: “This is yours.” It was his grandfather’s candy. “Whoever gave this to you would surely want you never to forget what happened. Do not ever forgive them. Eat it and swear that you will avenge him.” He put the candy in his mouth, it was the sweetest thing he had ever tasted, and yet, also the most bitter.
“A Kaiju, Daddy! Look at all the Kaijus!” It’s Halloween and Sammy wants the typical trick-or-treating candy. John cannot say no to his daughter. With the bicycle on one hand and the little girl’s hand on the other, they head down to the town’s candy shop where John buys a dozen of the terrifying giant monsters born out of the imagination of some insane genius.
He drinks a cup of sake. Through Akiro’s mind, the memories pass by haphazardly: the grandfather, the sweet, Hachiko, the blinding light, the thunder, the stones, the darkness, the hand, the voice, the flavor of the candy. He was placed in an orphanage where he would brood his revenge every second he had. With much effort and the help of his innate intelligence, he bypassed his blindness and kept on succeeding. His father would have been proud of him. He received his doctorate in Chemistry with the highest grade in the history of his university. However, when he finished his degree, he started a business venture: he founded a small candy factory. In his mind, he had drawn up a long-term plan, and with time and patience, it was taking shape.
John watches his daughter dressed as a witch savoring the candy one after another without a break. “Sammy, don’t eat so many or your tummy will hurt.” “But they’re too good, Dad.” “Leave some for after dinner, otherwise your mother will get angry at me for buying them.”
A few weeks ago he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, probably caused by the radiation from the explosion. This is going to be his last Halloween and it’s time for revenge. For years he had been improving a formula that Unit 731 had been working on in the thirties without much success. But finally he got it! He created a poison completely undetectable without smell, taste or color. He made tons of it and had it stored in the wait for the right moment. As soon as he learned the news of his illness, he ordered his factories to add the new component to the candies that were to be exported to the United States. The blind old man will become the biggest Halloween monster tonight. Now he can rest. He takes his Tantō out of its sheath and guts himself from left to right, then, with one last effort, he pushes the blade through the sternum. Amaterasu is the only witness of his fate.
“Daddy…” Sammy’s voice sounds weak. John looks at the clock, 2 a.m. He gets up and goes to his daughter’s room. The skin of the little child is literally burning, sweat covers her from head to toes. John tries for hours to call the emergency room but the phone does not connect. When he decides to take Sammy to the hospital himself, it’s too late. Sammy dies in her father’s arms. Her eyes, like those of thousands of American children this Halloween night, have been closed forever (will never see the light of another day).